Garden

Oaks - Oak - Quercus - Quercus robur


GeneralitŠ°


slow-growing rustic tree with deciduous, slow-growing leaves, widespread throughout Central Europe and part of the Mediterranean; in Italy it is very present especially in the north, in parks and large gardens, being of imposing size. The adult specimens can reach 45-50 meters, with expanded and rounded crown. The oak is a very long-lived tree of impressive size. It includes about 500 species native to Europe, America and the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere. The wide diffusion in various parts of the globe makes this tree particularly resistant to all conditions of climate and temperature. In nature there are two groups of oaks: the deciduous or deciduous, and the evergreen or with persistent foliage. Deciduous oaks are more widespread in the hills and in the mountains and at altitudes above 1200 meters. Evergreen oaks are more common in Mediterranean areas.

Leaves




dark green and shiny on the upper page, lighter on the lower page; they present 5-7 pairs of obtuse rounded lobes, which decrease in size from the apex to the stem of the petiole.

Fruits


The fruits of the oaks are called acorns, they are achenes, wrapped in the back by a rough, woody dome; they are green in color and become brown when ripe. There are several animals that feed on acorns, from small rodents like squirrels to wild boars and pigs.

Cultivation techniques


The oak is a plant that loves well-drained soils, possibly exposed to the sun, even if it tolerates the half-shade positions well enough; As far as planting is concerned, they are planted in autumn or spring but if we have potted plants with earthen bread we can plant them throughout the year without problems, except for the colder months when the soil is frozen and therefore difficult to work.

Pests for diseases


The ravines of the European forests suffer the attack of the processionary; in generele these large trees are not attacked by pests or diseases when they are adults, while the young specimens can be affected by powdery mildew and rust.

Multiplication


It takes place by sowing: the acorns must be sown within two months from the collection in pots or in deep houses, which must be placed outdoors; the seedlings are transplanted in full ground and go home after two or three years.

Botanical classification




The oak, scientific name deriving from the Latin Quercus, is commonly known with the common name of oak or farnia. In reality, the English oak tree identifies the most common oak tree, or the deciduous tree. It is a scientifically called shrub Quercus robur L., commonly called "oak". It is the most typical species of the genus "quercus" and the most widespread in Europe. The plant belongs to the Fagaceae family, the same that includes beech and chestnut. The oak tree is very long-lived, it is in fact classified among the "secular" species. These plants can greatly exceed one hundred years of life. Some specimens of oak can even exceed a thousand years of life. One of these was identified in Lithuania and it is claimed to have exceeded fifteen hundred years of life. Another, found in Denmark, would have been over twelve hundred years old. In Veneto, moreover, in the Po Delta, until 2013, there was a specimen of oak that was 500 years old. It was one of the farnias that were part of the ancient wood that once populated the Po Valley.

Morphology


The oak is a majestic and imposing tree. The trunk can reach and even exceed forty meters in height. The bark of the same is gray and with age tends to develop cracks that extend in the longitudinal direction. The foliage of the oak is rich, wide and oriented in a circular or oval direction. Some specimens can also present an umbrella-like crown. The appearance and growth of the plant have a remarkable ornamental effect and for this reason they make the tree the most suitable for decorating parks and public gardens. In these spaces, medium-sized single or group trees are transplanted and cultivated. The branches, very intricate, contribute to significantly increase the aesthetic yield of the oak. Even the leaves are no less: alternate, toothed and lobed, these parts of the plant differ from one plant to another, but also in the same plant, since the young ones have a completely different shape than the more mature ones. The leaves of the oak can also have angular or rounded edges, of green color; in autumn they tend to take on a lively reddish or orange color.

Flowers and fruits




The flowers of the oak can be both male and female and are present in the same plant. The male ones are gathered in yellowish central spikes called "graticci". The female flowers, instead, of greenish color, are small, insignificant and with no aesthetic value. Both male and female inflorescences appear in spring. THE oak fruits are the known "acorns", or those fruits coated, in the back, with a sort of rough and woody cup that contains a circular or oval seed with a smooth surface. The smooth seed, the acorn, that is the achene, is green and tends to become brown with maturation. For the fruiting of the oak, it is necessary to wait until the plant has completed at least forty or fifty years of life. Some varieties can bear fruit even after twenty years, but as you can see, the timing of appearance of the acorns is quite long. In adult oak, on the other hand, the acorns appear abundantly every two or three years.

Exposure and terrain


The oak loves sunny exposures and therefore in full sun. The ideal soil for the oak must be deep and well drained. The depth of the soil allows the plant to expand its root system and therefore also the width of the foliage. The plant can grow on any type of soil, although it is advisable to choose one of the alkaline or slightly acid type. To avoid hard and compact soils; instead prefer soft and clayey ones.

Temperature



The common oak is a plant typical of temperate zones. However, the plant does not fear any kind of climate or temperature and resists well both in the heat and in the cold. Most oak trees bear even winter frosts. This is why the oaks are present both in the areas of Northern Italy and in those of the South. In parks and public gardens, oaks are arranged alone, in groups, or in a row to delimit long tree-lined avenues. The grandeur of their foliage offers a good shading effect and shelter from the heat and the summer sun.

Composting


Oak is a plant that is able to absorb all the nutrients contained in deep and well-drained soils. Therefore, after implantation, the plant does not need any fertilization or fertilization. Instead, the fertilizer can be administered during the planting phase of the plant, or during the preparation and processing of the soil. The latter must be fertilized with mature manure.

Irrigation and pruning




Once mature, the oak has no need to be irrigated. Suffice it to say that the wild specimens live very well for centuries without anyone, apart from the good Lord and the rain, have ever done their utmost to irrigate them. In the humid and wooded areas, the oak, thanks to its imposing radical apparatus, succeeds in absorbing the water and using the stored stocks to keep itself in good condition. This capacity, on the other hand, is not present in the very young oak, which should instead be regularly irrigated. The adult oak can instead be irrigated during periods of prolonged drought. The plant does not even need pruning, neither in the training phase nor in the production phase. Action is taken only to eliminate any dry or damaged branches.

Propagation and planting


The oak propagates by sowing the acorns. These, of course, must be collected and within two months, buried in deep pots or boxes placed outdoors. After the appearance, the seedlings are buried in the open and planted after two or three years. The planting of oak trees takes place in autumn in the areas of Northern Italy and in the spring in those of the Center and South. The distance between one tree and another, also called "planting distance", varies according to the species planted and its dimensions.

Pests and diseases


The oak is attacked by a fearsome parasite called "processionary". It is a moth that moves in a larval phase forming a long procession of specimens, hence the name of the parasite and the consequent attack. The moth larvae are equipped with powerful jaws and stinging substances that in a short time cause all the fall of the oak leaves and the destruction of the branches. These are also destroyed because the adult insect, in the shape of a large butterfly or moth, creates nests on the host plant, from which the larvae of the next generation will appear. Another insect that can affect the oak is the cipinide, a hymenoptera that stings the leaves causing the formation of galls, or tannin-rich lumps. Other diseases that can affect the oak are rust and powdery mildew. The latter are diseases caused by fungi. The first shows itself with blackish spots on the leaves, the second with white spots on leaves and shoots. It should also be remembered that adult and secular oaks are hardly attacked by pests and diseases. The most vulnerable specimens are in fact the young ones.

Varieties and uses


Among the most famous varieties of oak we remember the quercus alba, white oak; the quercus cerris; the quercus coccinea or scarlet oak; the quercus frainetto; the quercus palustris, or marsh oak; the quercus robur and the quercus rubra, or red oak. The white oak, with leaves from five to nine lobes, with reddish leaves, is used both for ornamental purposes and to produce timber. Quercus cerris, with green leaves with three or eight lobes, is mainly used for ornamental purposes and less for producing lumber, which is of poor quality. Scarlet oak, with bright green leaves that turn red in autumn, is grown for exclusive ornamental purposes. The same uses also for the quercus frainetto. The bog oak, with widely lobed leaves, is mainly used for its highly sought-after timber. The use of quercus robur is always ornamental. Red oak, with leaves ranging from seven to eleven lobes and red leaves in autumn, is mainly grown to produce timber. We should also mention the quercus suber, or cork oak, an evergreen variety from which cork is made. The plant, with arboreal growth, is native to Europe and Africa and grows spontaneously throughout the Mediterranean basin. The cork oak has a broad crown and a trunk that can reach twenty meters in height.

Oaks - Oak - Quercus: History and symbols


The oak, due to its grandeur and majesty, is considered the king of the trees and the king of the woods. Greek mythology tells that it was Zeus himself who planted the first on earth oak tree and that only he could decide whether to let him live or die. The Greeks even believed that men, before the appearance of wheat, fed on acorns produced by oak trees. These plants were also given a sacred meaning. The Jews, for example, consider the sacred oak because, according to the Bible, God appeared to Abraham in an oak forest. The Celts also revered the oak, giving it magical powers. In ancient Rome, however, there was a oak tree much older than the Empire. It stood on the Vatican hill and was revered by all the people.
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